“And we will be with the Lord forever.”
1 Thessalonians 4:17 (NIV)
As a 7-8 year old, I recall a bright summer’s day lying on my back on the grass and looking up at the sky. As I lay there I was trying to work back through time and not able to get back past my grandfather. He was the oldest person I knew. Even with that short move back to the late eighteen hundreds, I had a fear in my heart of the concept of eternity. How could anyone, or anything exist forever?
Most people I know have a healthy fear of dying, especially those who do not have a firm notion of what lies on the other side of death. Ministering to dying Christians I have witnessed a serenity I have not seen when attending those who have no hope. On the one hand I saw not only acceptance of death but a sense of welcoming the transition from here to heaven. On the other hand, I have seen fear seize the minds of some dying people as they felt the end coming.
It has been a privilege to encourage a dying believer to look for the angels to come and escort them to heaven. Sadly, my words to those who were not Christians was a call to turn from sin and believe in the friend of sinners (Matt. 11:19). I always have a sense of urgency with such individuals. I assure them that the God they ignored in life is ready, willing, and able to take them to heaven if they turn to Him with their whole hearts and believe Jesus not only died for sinners but also rose from the dead.
This phrase “forever with the Lord” is full of hope and comfort. It brings peace to the troubled heart, to the one who knows they will soon leave this broken, shattered world for the glories of their Father’s home in a place prepared just for them. Some are even eager to get going, to take this last step in their faith journey to their eternal home.
Reader, do you have this hope? Can you say, “For me, absence from the body is to be present with the Lord!” Why are you distressed by the thought of death? Are you not prepared to die?
Many years ago, a Welshman was offered the bread at the Easter communion service but drew back from the minister. “What troubles you?” the minister asked. “I am not fit to receive it.” the man answered. Wisely the minister responded, “If you are not fit to receive the communion you are not fit to live. Moreover, you are certainly not fit to die.” This hope is offered to all who will receive it.
Will you confess Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that He rose from the dead? Do so and you will be saved now and will be forever with the Lord. Come and come now.